Kelly was a retired advertising executive and marketing professional. He was born in Springfield, Mo., the son of Charles Chester and Frances (Kelly) O'Neill. Kelly graduated in 1955 from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. He served in the U.S. Navy, Lt (jg.), from 1955-57 on the destroyer USS Jenkins, DD 447. Kelly married Kyoko Hirano, in 1981. Kyoko was a CBS Sales Executive.
Kelly began his advertising career in Kansas City. In 1962, he joined Gardner Advertising Company, St. Louis, Mo. His progress at Gardner was impressive, moving quickly through the ranks to Corporate Media Director.
In 1971 Kelly was founder and became Vice Chairman of Advanswers/Media Programming, which incorporated the Gardner Advertising media department. Kelly later became President of Gardner Advertising. In 1974 Wells Rich Greene, USA, acquired Gardner Advertising. Kelly became Vice Chairman of Wells Rich Greene.
Kelly took special pride in the founding of Advanswers and the extraordinary success of the company. Advanswers gained national recognition as the first independent media services company in the industry. Advanswers had offices in New York, St. Louis, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Kelly loved everything Navy, and retired to a perfect place for that, Hawaii. He had many current and retired Navy friends who loved to exchange stories of their service. While on active duty Kelly was on the ideal ship — the "Greyhound of the Sea", the classic destroyer.
He was very proud of being Irish and having a not so subtle Irish name: Kelly O'Neill. Kelly favored Irish whiskey as his spirit of choice and March 17 was a special day.
Kelly and Kyoko named the succession of their beloved Labrador retrievers Blarney — Blarney 1, 2, and 3. The names were partly to reflect Kelly's Irishness, and partly because Blarney 1 was such a special dog to them.
Kelly O'Neill was an accomplished individual. He had an ongoing sense of respect and intense concern of how to treat people with understanding, compassion, and subtle humor. He was a fine man.
Kelly also devoted his energy to numerous outside interests, including: The Bridge. Navy League of the United States, Sigma Chi, Alpha Delta Sigma, New York Athletic Club, St. Louis Racquet Club, St. Louis Club, Outrigger Canoe Club, Colony Surf, Ltd., Waialae Iki Ridge Cmty. Assn., Labrador Retriever Club.
There will be a Memorial Service held in Honolulu at a later date.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased